Chris Chocola: Thad Cochran has a liberal voting record in the U.S. Senate

By Chris Chocola

My group, the Club for Growth PAC, is supporting state Sen. Chris McDaniel over incumbent U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran. Sen. Cochran has done some good things for Mississippi, but he’s been in Washington for 42 years and is part of the reason why we have $17 trillion in debt. To put 42 years in perspective, Thad Cochran has been in Washington nearly the entire time that Chris McDaniel has been alive, and now Cochran’s asking for a seventh six-year term. Why would his seventh term be any different from the last six?

There isn’t any evidence that returning Thad Cochran to the Senate will impact the direction our county is heading under President Barack Obama. In fact, when Obama was running for president, Sen. Cochran predicted Obama would do an “excellent job” as president. Sen. Cochran was wrong about that, just as he was wrong to back incumbent President Gerald Ford instead of Ronald Reagan in 1976. Yes, Sen. Cochran was really for Ford instead of Reagan. (He wasn’t for Reagan in the 1980 primaries either.) He’s been in Washington that long.

Sen. Cochran has a liberal voting record. That’s a fact. Even the staunchest defenders of Cochran will never deny that Cochran has voted for the following things:

  • He voted to create the Department of Education under Jimmy Carter in the 1970s.
  • He voted for the 1990 income tax increase under President George H.W. Bush that broke Bush’s famous “read my lips, no new taxes” promise.
  • He voted to fund ObamaCare and to raise the debt ceiling — he’s actually voted to raise the debt ceiling 20 times.

All of those are facts. Period. They are not in dispute.

And while Sen. Cochran has been in office, the debt has gone from practically nothing to $17 trillion. That’s a fact too. It’s part of the reason he was given one of the lowest ratings by the American Conservative Union of any Republican Senator during the Obama era, a 63 percent.

A lot is made about projects in Mississippi that Thad Cochran got federal money for. What his supporters (many of whom are lobbyists who are paid to get politicians like Cochran to appropriate money for one project or another) fail to mention is that for every building in Mississippi Sen. Cochran voted for, he also had to vote to spend Mississippi tax dollars on things like a Woodstock Museum in New York or a Cowgirl Hall of Fame in Oklahoma or a Lobster Institute in Maine. All of which, like Sen. Cochran’s pork projects, received millions of dollars paid for by Mississippi taxpayers.

Thad Cochran loves to tout his pork projects even as the rest of the Republican Party has taken the opposite position on pork. Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner opposes them. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican, opposes them. 2012 Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney opposes them. Even President Obama — hardly a conservative — opposes them. Not Sen. Cochran.

Sen. Cochran loves the power of pork so much that he once voted to spend hundreds of millions of dollars on probably the most famous pork project of all — the Bridge to Nowhere in Alasksa — instead of shifting the money to repair a bridge damaged by Hurricane Katrina. That’s a fact. Even the most desperate Cochran apologist has no rational explanation for that. Why would any Mississippi politician chose to spend Mississippi taxpayer dollars on a bridge in Alaska instead of a bridge damaged by Hurricane Katrina? And now Sen. Cochran wants a seventh term?

Opponents of Chris McDaniel have a line of attack that the non-partisan FactCheck.org said was “twisting the facts.” All of the criticisms leveled at him are for bills that were signed into law by Cochran supporters such as former Gov. Haley Barbour and current Gov. Phil Bryant. Don’t take my word for it. It’s the first thing that comes up online when you do a search on the Internet for “twisting the facts about Chris McDaniel.”

You know what would really solve the question of who to vote for?

A series of debates between 42-year incumbent U.S. Sen. Cochran and 41 year-old state Sen. Chris McDaniel. We can all agree on this: The contrast would be stark.

Chris Chocola, a former congressman from Indiana, is the president of the Club for Growth, 2001 L St. NW, Suite 600, Washington, DC 20036

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